BEALLSVILLE - Things are certainly looking up for the Beallsville Blue Devils.
After a 15-5 campaign, the Devils have increased numbers and a brand-new gym to christen this winter as Rick Jarrett begins his third season at the helm.
Jarrett credits the past success as the reason for the influx of new faces for the program, which now has 12 players after having seven a year ago.
"I think some of the girls who didn't come out last season saw the success we had and wanted to be a part of it," Jarrett said. "Plus, we had a couple of kids move into the district."
The better numbers are going to allow Beallsville to field a junior varsity squad as well, as long as health issues don't arise during the course of the season.
History was made last Saturday evening when Beallsville played host Strasburg in its first girls' basketball game in its new gym at the high school.
"I loved our old gym because it was so unique, but the new one has been unbelievable for practicing and we're excited to play in it," Jarrett said. "We've been able to run practices a lot differently and get much more work done because we have so much more space."
While the numbers are up, Beallsville must find a way to replace Julie Bilyeu, who graduated and is now playing at Ohio University Eastern.
Jarrett is leaning on a solid senior class, which hes been pleased with, to help ease the burden.
"Our seniors realize this is their last go-around, so they've really worked hard in areas to get better," Jarrett said. "Their determination has really rubbed off on the younger girls. They're really focused and ready for the season to start."
The Blue Devils hope to use their size to an advantage this winter. When you talk size, it begins with 6-foot-1 pivot Katie Kinney.
"(Kinney) has really worked hard to improve her moves inside and her rebounding," Jarrett pointed out.
Also penciled into the starting lineup are senior Madison Stephen (5-9), who saw quality action a season ago.
"Madison is really quick and she hustles all of the time," Jarrett said. "She's good at taking the ball to the basket."
Senior Allison Campbell is the Blue Devils top option as a perimeter shooter.
"Allison has a nice shot and has worked hard to improve her defense," Jarrett said.
Senior Mikeala Headley is expected to be in the starting lineup after an offseason when she's improved all facets of her game. Jarrett has been impressed with her perimeter shooting.
Newcomer Lane Bedford is ticketed for the fifth starting spot. The junior transfered to Beallsville from Jonathan Alder High School in Plain City.
"She's a really quick guard and a good defender," Jarrett said.
Senior Megan Palmer returned to the squad after playing as both a freshman and sophomore. She'll supply depth.
Four sophomores vying for minutes include Morgan Myers, Sarah Quilion, Randi Ring and Dicey Stewart, who transferred from River. Frosh Emilee Barnett and Katlyn Vannest round out the Devils' roster.
"I think we can be seven or eight deep," Jarrett said. "But, as always, it depends on the situation."
The biggest key, according to Jarrett, will be how well the Blue Devils finish games.
"I think we can get things started, but we have to have the fortitude to finish teams off," Jarrett said. "With some new faces, we also have to make sure our chemistry is there."
That chemistry is one of the reasons that Jarrett thinks his team will continue to get better as it grows more and more comfortable with one another.
"I am hoping we get off to a strong start because I've seen a lot of improvement since the summer and our first scrimmage," Jarrett said. "The more court time we get together, the better we'll be."
The Blue Devils will face an upgraded schedule this season. On top of the addition of two games, Beallsville was dropped by Valley, Paden City and Conotton Valley.
New to the slate are home-and-home games with Magnolia, Monroe Central, Steubenville Central and a single game with Shenandoah.
"We think we came up with a pretty challenging schedule," Jarrett said. "We wanted to challenge ourselves a little more and playing good competition does that."
Jarrett is being assisted, at the varsity level, by Ty English and Savannah Burke. Jeff Fluharty and Ron Riser are working with the junior high squads.